Originally Posted: July 21, 2015
As Trump shoots from the hip, Lone Ranger Perry fires back
WASHINGTON – With Donald Trump under fire, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry sat for an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Monday night via satellite hookup, appearing by himself in the corner of a room beside a lamp, a set of books and a globe.
“I’m going to stand up to him, just like I would stand up to Vladimir Putin,” Perry said, explaining his escalating war of words with the outlandish business mogul, who had attacked Perry’s record of policing the southern border in Texas.
Perry, Hannity noted, seemed more willing than any of his GOP rivals to take on Trump, who has surged to the top of the Republican presidential primary polls. “There seems to be bad blood here growing,” he said.
“Well, I don’t know about bad blood,” Perry replied, “but when he attacks me and the bullet goes through me and hits the Texas Rangers … you better believe I’m going to stand up.”
The clip of Perry alone in a corner seemed an apt visual for a candidate who has been pushing back the hardest against the Trump phenomenon, even before the reality TV star’s incendiary remarks belittling the war record of U.S. Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam War POW.
“I have a message for my fellow Republicans and the independents who will be voting in the primary process,” Perry said last week, before Trump scrambled the GOP contest with his shot at McCain. “What Mr. Trump is offering is not conservatism, it is Trump-ism – a toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense.”
The contrast has been particularly stark with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who courted the Manhattan tycoon in his Trump Tower office last week. Since then, Cruz has steadfastly declined to join the GOP scrum over Trump’s controversial remarks questioning McCain’s war heroism.
“I recognize that folks in the press love to see Republican-on-Republican violence, so you want me to say something bad about Donald Trump or bad about John McCain or bad about anyone else,” Cruz told reporters in Iowa. “I’m not going to do it. John McCain is a friend of mine. I respect and admire him and he’s an American hero. And Donald Trump is a friend of mine.”
Analysts say both Texans have been hurt by Trump, who has co-opted both of their messages on border security and immigration. He once even publicly questioned Cruz’s Canadian birth.
But the new conflagration also presents opportunities. For Cruz, a Trump implosion – still by no means certain – would be a chance to reclaim the anti-Washington part of the GOP base that has rallied around Trump’s no-holds-barred tactics.
“It’s a bet that at some point, Trump disappears,” said Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson, explaining Cruz’s reluctance to go after Trump. READ MORE